Metropolitan Methodios Welcomes Metropolitan Kallistos to the Divine Compassion: Women in the Church Conference

July 2, 2014

(Brookline, MA) His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston warmly welcomed the renowned theologian Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia to the Metropolis and the conference on “Divine Compassion: Women in the Church, Theological Perspectives.” The conference was held at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA on June 20-21, 2014. 

In his welcome, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston spoke of the profound influence which the lectures and writings of Metropolitan Kallistos has had on the life of the Church. He also took note of Metropolitan Kallistos’ distinguished service to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and his participation in the Orthodox-Catholic International Theological Consultation and the International Orthodox-Anglican Theological Consultation on which he is the chairman. This was followed by greetings from Dr. James Skedros, Dean of Holy Cross School of Theology and Dr. Kyriaki FitzGerald, Executive Director of St. Catherine’s Vision.

The Conference on Divine Compassion and Women of the Church: Theological Perspectives held on June 20-21, 2014 gathered over two hundred participants from throughout the United States and Canada.  This conference is the second in a series engaging themes related to Divine Compassion (theia eleos), co-sponsored by Hellenic College-Holy Cross School of Theology, the Metropolis of Boston, and St. Catherine’s Vision (SCV).

Professor James Skedros, Dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of theology warmly greeted Metropolitan Kallistos to the campus.  Dr. Skedros noted the rich contributions the life and work of Metropolitan Kallistos has made in the Orthodox Church throughout the world.  Following Dean Skedros, Dr. Kyriaki FitzGerald  Adjunct Professor in Theology at Holy Cross and Executive Director of St. Catherine’s Vision, stated, “this second Conference on Divine Compassion provided the opportunity for Orthodox Christians to appreciate a little more deeply the reality of Divine Compassion,  theia eleos,  and the various ways this influences the life and participation of women and men within the Church and society.”

Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh, a former doctoral student of Metropolitan Kallistos, was invited to introduce Metropolitan Kallistos. 

Metropolitan Kallistos began his keynote address with, “In the Jesus Prayer, mercy is the link between the glory of God and the sinner.” His presentation focused not only on God’s compassion but also the suffering that Christ experienced while on earth. He is the “wounded healer” and he does this with the “salvation exchange” expressed by St. Athanasius:  “God became man so man could become God.” 

Regarding the ministry of women, two schools of thought were pointed out on the gifts of women and men.    One school, of which Metropolitan Kallistos expresses some “reservations”, is associated with the work of Professor Paul Evdokimov (1901-1970), who argues that man is represented in a particular manner by Christ and woman is represented in a particular manner by the Holy Spirit.  Another school of theological thinking is represented by the early church Fathers who, for the most part, emphasize the humanness (as anthropos) of Christ and all persons, stressing in his conclusions that “we must be careful when distinguishing the gifts of men and women.  All diakonia (service) “means laying down your life for others . . . both men and women.”

A day-long series of presentations related to the conference theme followed the next day. The presenters were:  Dr. Despina Prassas (Providence College and Holy Cross), Iulia Curtright, Ph.D. cand.,(Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Lincoln, Nebraska) engaging themes related to: “Incarnated Mercy: The Theotokos and the Saints”;  Fr. Robert  and Matushka Susan Arida (Holy Trinity Church, Boston MA) engaging themes related to “The Healing of Relationships concerning ‘Adam and Eve’, Today”; Kh. Christina Reimann, MA., M.Ed., CADCII,  (St. Anthony the Great Church, San Diego, CA), Dr. George Stavros (Boston University Danielsen Institute), engaging themes related to “Encountering Divine Compassion through Everyday Relationships: Home, Community and the Workplace”; Dr. Fotini Kapsalis (Trinity College, Eastern and Orthodox Christian Studies Program, Toronto, CA), Dr. Kyriaki FitzGerald  (Adjunct Professor in Theology, Holy Cross and Saint Catherine’s Vision, Executive Director), engaging themes on Divine Compassion: Women, Worship and Ministry; Pres. Athanasia Kostakis, M.Div., MSW, D.Min. cand., (Holy Trinity Church, Dallas, TX) offered the “Saint Catherine’s Vision Young Scholar’s Initiative” pre-conference seminar on: “Resilience in Lay-Ministry from and Orthodox Perspective”.

Metropolitan Kallistos closed the conference noting the uniqueness of every human person; as “no one is redundant” while still being created in the image and after the likeness of God.  He also stressed that we need to “continue to explore new ways for the roles of women in the Church . . .  and that compassion transforms our relationships with others.”

SCV is a Pan-Orthodox organization of women theologians and other lay servant-leaders dedicated to developing and implementing spiritually and theologically sound initiatives “for the building up of the body of Christ” (Ep.4:12) and is endorsed by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.